Citizens’ Climate Lobby Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the country across Australia, respecting their connection to sea, land and community. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
Notes from the Chair
Another eventful month as CCL Australia has continued building towards our vision of Australia leading the global “race to zero” as we approach COP26 in November. Professor John Hewson was our Monthly Meeting Guest Speaker for June, we heard his thoughts on carbon pricing in the current political climate. Emma Storey and Jim Allen have had another breakthrough by getting letters in the Australian! We continue to get letters in the Financial Review on carbon pricing and sometimes specifically on fee and dividend. Our thanks to our many letter writers. Over the past couple of months, we have had over 20 MP meetings including with Chris Bowen, Paul Fletcher, Senator Scott Ryan, Penny Wong and Ken Wyatt. We have more meetings scheduled in the month ahead and have plans for another “lobby month” in September. Our Grasstops engagement is taking off and we are beginning to get good endorsements for the Australian Climate Dividend (ACD). Our meetings with Woodside led to a very constructive meeting with the Business Council of Australia. Our ‘Team of Teams’ structure is coming together well and we are getting more and more organised for growing new chapters across the country. Our Donations Page on Chuffed is working well and ready to receive your donations – you will have seen our ‘tax-time appeal’ emails (check your junk mail if you haven’t!). Please respond as generously as you can. And our Marketing and Strategy Teams are making great progress working out how best to make ACD well known to many more Australians. Please enjoy our newsletter!
Rod Mitchell, National Chair.
By Lisha Chaves, CCL Australia Volunteer
Australian National Conversation Online:
Thursday, 17th June, 8 pm NSW, VIC, QLD, ACT, TAS | 730 pm SA, NT | 6 pm WA
The National Conversation will be held on Thursday 17th of June. We will hear from both leaders and members of our eight core teams about the progress that they are making and the challenges they are addressing, as they work together to achieve our vision of achieving Net Zero in Australia through the Australian Climate Dividend and a Climate Smart Recovery. The Conversation will lay the foundations to allow us to reach our goal of an active group in every electorate. It will also be an interactive session to seek ideas for a new name, to discuss the recruiting and onboarding of team members, and to engage feedback on changes in recent months. Please join us to support the vital work our team is doing to create the political will for a liveable world. We love to hear from all active volunteers—your feedback helps CCL Australia develop. Join us on Zoom at: https://zoom.us/j/7868786878
June Action: Letter to MPs
Our National Chair, Rod Mitchell, has created a written letter template to MPs to emphasise the importance of implementing the Australian Climate Dividend (ACD) for Australia to achieve net-zero emissions. This letter outlines the numerous benefits of the ACD—that it is the simplest, most efficient, and fairest way to achieve our Net Zero goal and simultaneously stimulate the economy. The Regional Coordinators and Group Leaders are coordinating the sending of the letters. It is not intended as a mass mailing—only one letter for each MP, preferably from one of their constituents.
July Monthly Guest Speaker (online)
By Maree Nutt, CCL Australia Volunteer
Sunday 4th July 4.30 pm NSW, VIC, QLD, ACT, TAS | 4 pm SA, NT | 2.30 pm WA
Save the date! CCL Australia National Guest Speaker Call on Sunday the 4th of July. Our speaker is Harry Guinness, CEO and co-founder of the Blueprint Institute. Established only one year ago, the Blueprint has already produced several cutting-edge reports and commentaries on energy reform, emissions reductions, employment, and the recent budget. Prior to founding Blueprint Institute, Harry was an advisor to former Foreign Minister and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, Julie Bishop. Following the talk, we divide into groups to discuss the issue in detail. All welcome via Zoom: https://citizensclimate.zoom.us/j/7868786878
For more information on upcoming events, please visit https://au.citizensclimatelobby.org/upcoming-events/
By Lisha Chaves and Meredith Kraina, CCL Australia Volunteers.
Meeting with Steven Wright
Rod Mitchell, Warwick Smith and Joyce Erceg met with Senior Policy Advisor at the Business Council of Australia (BCA), Steven Wright. This organisation represents over 150 companies. Small, medium and large business is the backbone of Australia’s labour force, as it employs 6 out of 7 Australians. We asked BCA to be part of a push to become more united and assertive in calls for carbon pricing. We will be meeting again in a couple of months, after the release of a document they are working on at present, which may partially cover this topic. Wright did say that a carbon price is something that most of their members agree with.
Hume Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s Meet with Richie Merzian
Hume Citizens’ Climate Lobby recently met with speaker Richie Merzian last month. He is the inaugural director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Australian Institute. He was the Australian Government representative to the UN Climate Change Conference and is also a co-founder of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. In the meeting, Merzian focused on the importance of moving towards zero-emission targets and renewable energy. He explained that the actions to move to renewable energy sources will create jobs while ensuring clean air and security. He also spoke about the need to generate more electricity from renewables after the establishment of adequate renewable sources. The complete article, Hume Citizens’ Climate Lobby talks about renewables (Neha Attre, 11/5/2021), published in Goulburn Post, can be viewed here.
Hume Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s meet with Gabrielle Chan
Gabrielle Chan is a political freelance journalist and the author of Rusted Off – Why Country Australia is Fed Up. She is accustomed to Australian rural life and is experienced in addressing issues related to farming and land management. Hume Citizens’ Climate Lobby met with Chan on June 3rd, she spoke about climate change and its impact on farming and land management. She stated that she is eager to see more discussion regarding the “interdependencies” of community and farming, as well as farming and environment. Chan has views consistent with the implementation of the Australian Climate Dividend. A spokesperson said, “She feels that consumer purchasing power is a way for the individual to take control of their own contribution towards existential threats like climate change, whilst also pushing corporations towards conscious and responsible practices.” The complete article, Hume Citizens Climate Lobby talks about climate change and agriculture (by Neha Attre, 8/6/2021), published in the Goulburn Post, can be viewed here.
Sunday Monthly Meeting with John Hewson:
Hewson, We Have a Problem – and Solutions
By Trent Whitehand-Willick, CCL Australia Volunteer.
Professor John Hewson was our guest speaker on Sunday the 6th of June. Hewson held several prominent positions in the Liberal Party throughout the 1980s, before leading the party from 1990-1994. A professor of economics, Hewson is a Founder of Macquarie Bank and has been a chairman/director for a host of public and private companies. He is Chair for Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia, Chair for Bioenergy Australia, and more. Hewson is also a prominent social and political commentator across a range of forums.
Hewson has been involved in climate advocacy for decades now. “I’ve been at the issue of climate since the late eighties”, he said, describing a bygone era of Canberra: not so beset by special interest groups and partisanship, both major parties unanimously supported emissions reductions.
Hewson explained that consensus is now replaced by “a race to the bottom” through both suppression and avoidance of the issue. Both major parties’ national policy platforms are refusing the global acceleration towards net-zero. Nation-states, corporations, businesses and civil society groups are increasingly adapting to this necessity. Yet, Australian governments continue to “ignore market forces and evidence”, he told us.
He believes no international policy authority accepts the full extent of climate change. Years of political gridlock and disinformation have inhibited international ambition. For example, where the 1997 Kyoto Protocol sought mitigation, the 2016 Paris Agreement seeks adaption. Nonetheless, the global economy is restructuring towards net-zero while Canberra refuses.
The relevance of the technological shift required to do so is on par with the industrial revolution, Hewson stated. It requires long-term planning and strategy. Without this, Australia risks technological disparity and annual COVID-19 scale recessions, he continued. Simultaneously, Hewson noted, the costs of increasingly severe and frequent bushfire seasons are forecast to increase. This would compound our economic woes. The situation is “not in the national interest”, he said.
Nonetheless, he understands there are solutions. Foremost, that climate change should be the 2021 election focus. If so, it could be an opportunity for independents to defibrillate Australia’s climate policy. He exampled independent MP Kerryn Phelps’ successful election campaign, which swung Wentworth’s (NSW) perennially conservative seat by an astonishing seventeen percent, focusing on climate change and government accountability. According to Hewson, if enough independents campaign similarly, they could hold the balance of power in parliament for both major parties and deliver policy solutions.
Climate credits could provide vital assistance to Australian farmers. He indicated that carbon credits could form a vital safety net for Australian agriculturalists that operate with zero or negative-zero emissions. Carbon credits could form a secondary income that protects farmers from natural disasters. This readily available policy solution would incentivise more farmers to transition to net-zero, further reducing Australian emissions.
Hewson argued that Australia is technologically capable of whole-scale renewable energy with battery reserves. We also have ample political opportunity – polling demonstrates substantial public support for stronger climate governance. The global political economy is moving accordingly. Many advanced industrial nations are beginning to implement carbon prices and accordingly, he stated that “a carbon price is inevitable”.
Hewson gave an honest and realistic canvassing of Australia’s climate predicament. He was candid in his criticisms of both major political parties and in discussing the severity of the climate crisis while noting the solutions at hand.
Watch the full presentation here.
By Trent Whitehand-Willick, CCL Australia Volunteer.
Our volunteers have been published in the Australian, while we are maintaining a foothold in the Financial Review. This is hugely important to disseminating information regarding the importance of the Australian Climate Dividend, as needed to create the political will for a liveable world. Well done to Milos, Tom and Jim for your thoughtful and well-written letters.
Help our volunteers Chuff along.
All of CCL Australia’s work is volunteer-based. Donations enable us to appoint the staff we need to support you, our valued supporters, to create the political will for a liveable world. We have set up a donation portal on Chuffed.org. If you haven’t yet donated, please consider doing so here.
The Climate Monthly
A synthesis of Jenny Goldie’s recent “The Climate This Week” articles, written by Akshay Vallam, CCL Australia Volunteer.
Caution to humankind on the Environment Day
On World Environment Day (June 5th), the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres, warned that being locked into irreversible, catastrophic climate change is in sight. He warned the next decade is the ultimate window to prevent this. Accordingly, the theme for this year’s World Environment Day was “restoring ecosystems”. The UN has called on governments to reestablish at least one billion degraded hectares of land in the next decade – an area roughly the size of China – to mark the start of the “decade of ecosystem restoration”.
“We are rapidly reaching the point of no return for the planet. We face a triple environmental emergency – biodiversity loss, climate disruption and escalating pollution. […] Science tells us these next ten years are our final chance to avert a climate catastrophe, turn back the deadly tide of pollution, and end species loss.”
– Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General.
Serious about the climate crisis, “No more coal.”
Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), stated: “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year.” The Federal Government’s decision to go ahead with the gas-fired power station at Kurri Kurri has been commonly criticised by business persons, politicians and climate activists alike (Abc.net.au 2021). On Q&A on Thursday, it was suggested that it would never be built and that it was simply a gesture made due to the then-upcoming NSW State by-election in the Upper Hunter.
Disappointing Federal Budget
Again The Federal Government proposed very little on the environment, indicating no commitment to net-zero emissions. The government’s concern about climate change may be quantified by how much money it is willing to give to diminish it. Spoiler alert: it’s not much. The Australian Conservation Foundation discovered that for every $100 spent in last year’s budget, just 16 cents were spent tackling the climate crisis. In contrast, this value was 25 cents in the 2013-14 Budget, when the Coalition took back control of the Federal Government. (Australian Conservation Foundation 2021)
Gas is the new coal
If the Adani coal mine proposal was problematic enough – there’s greater controversy on the horizon. A proposed gas export development in northern Western Australia could produce pollution equivalent to fifteen coal-fired power stations in its lifetime. The Scarborough to Pluto liquified natural gas development may soon be approved without a full environmental impact assessment from state or federal authorities. The project includes developing a new gas field more than 400km off the coast, piping infrastructure and an expanded processing facility in the Pilbara. (Market Forces 2021)
According to recently released government data, Australia’s emissions dropped last year to levels unprecedented in the past thirty years. The decrease of more than 20% of 2005 emission levels, was also assisted by other factors, including, but not limited to, improved renewable power uptake and fewer fugitive emissions from Western Australia’s vast Gorgon gas export facility. Emissions plummeted by 5% – to 499 million tonnes in 2020 alone. The federal government tried to take credit for this. However, the Climate Council has noted that it was “every state and territory in Australia” that is demonstrating climate leadership right now, with clean Covid recovery plans. Moreover, emissions are expected to jump back as the economy will fully reopen with the end of the pandemic. (The Guardian 2021)
Government must protect young people from the climate crisis – says the Australian court
The Federal Court of Australia has decided that the Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, has a “duty of care” to protect young people from the climate crisis in a “judgment hailed by lawyers and teenagers who brought the case as a world first”. Eight teenagers and an octogenarian nun had sought to prevent Ley’s approval of Whitehaven Coal’s proposal to expand the Vickery coal mine in northern New South Wales. They argued that she had a standard duty of care to secure young people against potential harm from climate change. Justice Mordecai Bromberg found the minister had a duty of care to not act in a way that would cause imminent damage to younger people. Nonetheless, Bromberg did not grant the injunction, as he was not satisfied the coal mines’ approval would breach the minister’s duty of care. The court heard that the proposed expansion could lead to an additional 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution – approximately 20% of Australia’s annual climate footprint – being released into the atmosphere. Last week, the International Energy Agency suggested there can be no new oil, gas or coal investments if the world is to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals and reach net-zero by 2050. (The Guardian 2021)
The peak CO2 level ever recorded
It had been anticipated that COVID-19 may have fostered a reduction in global carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Alas, it has not been so. Rather, annual emissions dropped, but net emissions did not go negative. In May, the Mauna Loa station in Hawaii, well away from all pollution in the mid-Pacific, recorded 419ppm CO2 levels; the highest level in 63 years of operation. (UNEP 2021)
G7 Meeting in Cornwall, UK.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended the first face-to-face global leadership summit since the start of the pandemic over the weekend. The agenda included foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific, coronavirus and climate change. Leaders of the world’s largest “advanced economies” – the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – continued to move decisively towards net-zero, as they pledged commitment to end support for coal-fired power stations by the end of 2021. A joint statement from the leaders stated that “coal power generation is the single biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions […] continued global investment in unabated coal power generation is incompatible with keeping 1.5°C within reach.”
Australia signed clean energy agreements with Germany and Japan.
A Month for Climate Advocacy
By Trent Whitehand-Willick, CCL Australia Volunteer.
World Environment Day (5/6)
Reimagine. Recreate. Restore. #GenerationRestoration
On World Environment Day, The United Nations launched its Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) – a global campaign aiming to revive billions of hectares of ecosystems. As such, World Environment Day focused on ecosystem restoration this year, with the theme of: “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore”.
“This is our moment. We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make peace with nature. Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid. Join #GenerationRestoration”
World Oceans Day World (8/6)
World Ocean Day was this month and its Action Focus is to protect at least 30% of our blue planet by 2030 (“30×30”). As Sierra Farr illustrates below, A healthy ocean is crucial to a liveable climate and healthy ecosystem. By supporting 30×30 we can help protect our planet’s life support systems and future generations.
World leaders are deciding the future of our planet and oceans this year. You can have your voice heard by signing the 30×30 Petition and help protect our vital ecosystems for future generations.
World Refugee Day (20/6) and National Refugee Week (20-26/6):
The Global Compact on Refugees (2018) recognises that “climate, environmental degradation and disasters increasingly interact with the drivers of refugee movement”. As early as 1990, the International Panel on Climate Change stated that one of the greatest impacts on climate change may be on human migration. Climate change may cause an increase in displaced peoples, resulting in climate refugees—often also referred to as “forced migrants” or “climate migrants”. Current forecasts estimate that the incidence of climate migrants could range from twenty-five million to one billion by 2050. The most commonly accepted estimate is 200 million by 2050. This would be a ten-fold increase to current documented refugee and internally displaced populations.
(Source: Brown, O. 2008. ‘Migration and Climate Change’, in IOM Migration Series, No. 31, Ilse Pinto-Dobernig (ed). International Organisation for Migration. Geneva, Switzerland).
Why is plastic pollution so harmful to our oceans?
By Sierra Farr, CCL Australia Volunteer.
Ongoing plastic pollution in our oceans is one of the most significant environmental crises of our time. Plastic production increased exponentially from 2.3 million tonnes to 448 million tonnes in 2015. There are approximately 8 million pieces of plastic going into the ocean every day (1). In this article, we’re going to be looking at why plastic is so harmful to the ocean.
Plastic pollution can enter the ocean in many forms. A single plastic bag can enter the ocean and be broken down into smaller pieces that can be lost in the deep sea indefinitely (2). As a result of this fragmentation process, the number of plastic pieces can continue to exponentiate despite our efforts to stop plastic pollution from reaching the ocean. These small pieces can then accumulate in ocean gyres—large whirlpool-like systems spanning thousands of kilometres—such as the North Atlantic Gyre, a significant contributor to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Plastic’s chemical constitution is lethal to our oceans. Its surface is hydrophobic, meaning it cannot bond with water, and subsequently accumulates metals and other materials (3). When submerged in water, plastics leach out chemicals and can become up to 3 times more toxic within 48 hours. These toxins can then become available to a wide range of organisms, including but not limited to: fish, basking sharks, whales and amphipods. Plastic can also attract a variety of microbes to its surface. Over time, it is weighed down by microbes and contaminants, then sinks to the deep ocean (4).
Plastics can take up to 450 years to degrade, with this process being extended in the absence of sunlight, particularly on the ocean floor (5). With such a long biodegradation window, plastics can diffuse vastly – before, during and after the fragmentation process abovementioned. Due to its hydrophobic surface, plastics can be used as sites for microbial colonisation. This process allows for plastics to act as ‘rafts’ that introduce microbial species—often described as “the base of the food chain”—to new environments where they can disrupt extant “food chains” and so are considered ‘invasive species’. If an invasive population suddenly grows too numerous following its entry to a foreign environment with abundant resources, it can wipe out its original food source population. Once that food source population is eliminated, its native predator population will begin dying out. This cycle will reverberate throughout the local ecosystem, lowering biodiversity and food abundance.
Concurrently, colonisation of plastics by microscopic marine algae, for example, phytoplankton, poses a major threat to aquatic and marine ecosystem structures and functions.
One such microalgae that may be an example of this is Didymosphenia geminate (6). Studies have found a correlation between the introduction of this diatom species with a subsequent increase in benthic macroinvertebrates (small aquatic animals and the larval stages of aquatic insects), which may potentially lead to disruptions in the food chains due to increased competition for food and subsequent decreases in marine biodiversity. Notwithstanding, further studies are required to uncover the full extent that ecosystem disruption that can be attributed to these invasive species such as the Didymosphenia geminate.
Microplastic ingestion by microbes and crustaceans can have lasting impacts on ecosystems. A study undertaken in the North East Pacific Ocean found that zooplanktons, a so-called “food chain base-species”, had ingested plastic (7). Furthermore, plastics have also been found in phytoplankton. Microplastics have been found to cause genomic changes and even inhibit the photosynthetic abilities of some phytoplankton. Phytoplanktons are photosynthetic organisms that come up to the surface of the ocean and help pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to oxygen. They then sink to the ocean floor and are decomposed, or are eaten by zooplankton which is then eaten by larger organisms. Damage to phytoplankton and zooplankton populations has implications for that ripple throughout the Earth’s ecosystem—that includes us—and for the primary mechanism of carbon storage in the deep oceans.
Last year, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, estimated that there were 14 million tonnes of plastic in the deep ocean (8). This number is forecast to increase, parallel to a concerted anti-plastic movement gaining international momentum in recent years. Plastic pollution degrades the carbon storage ability of our ocean’s microalgae and reduces biodiversity. With the abovementioned in mind, it is imperative that we protect our marine ecology and begin to curb the levels of plastic in our oceans.
(1) Parker, L 2019, ‘The world’s plastic pollution crisis explained’, National Geographic https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-pollution
(2) Thompson, RC 2015, ‘Microplastics in the Marine Environment: Sources, Consequences and Solutions’, in M Bergmann, L Gutow & M Klages (Eds.), Marine Anthropogenic Litter, Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp. 185-200.
(3) Rochman CM, 2015, ‘The Complex Mixture, Fate and Toxicity of Chemicals Associated with Plastic Debris in the Marine Environment’, in M Bergmann, L Gutow & M Klages (Eds.), Marine Anthropogenic Litter, Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp. 117- 140.
(4) Ye, S & Andrady, AL 1991, ‘Fouling of Floating Plastic Debris Under Biscayne Bay Exposure Conditions’, Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 22, no. 12, pp. 608-613.
(5) Andrady, AL 2015, ‘Persistence of Plastic Litter in the Oceans’, in M Bergmann, L Gutow & M Klages (Eds.), Marine Anthropogenic Litter, Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp. 57-72.
(6) Gillis, CA & Chalifour, M 2010, ‘Changes in the microbenthic community structure following the introduction of the invasive algae Didymosphenia geminate in the Matapedia River (Québec, Canada)’, Hydrobiologia, vol. 647, iss. 1, pp. 63-70
(7) Desforges JP, Galbraith M & Ross P 2015, ‘Ingestion of Microplastics by Zooplankton in the Northeast Pacific Ocean’, Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, vol. 69, no. 3, pp. 320-330
(8) Kikken, N. 2020. CSIRO, ‘Australia’s national science agency, has provided the first ever global estimate for microplastics on the seafloor, with results suggesting there are 14 million tonnes in the deep ocean’. URL: https://www.csiro.au/en/news/news-releases/2020/14-million-tonnes-of-microplastics-on-seafloor. Accessed: 15/06/2021.
For Our Children
By Tom Hunt, CCL Australia Volunteer.
I have admired Professor John Hewson for a long time, but never so much as in recent years. He provides such clear and wise words on the very problem that so worries me. With a lifetime of experience in Australian economics, business and government, John has a very clear understanding of the world and its problems. He is prolific with his sensible and valued commentary. No longer beholding to the political bubble or constrained by the strings that lead our government, he is able to speak freely and clearly about Australia’s problems and its opportunities. Professor Hewson shares my passion for solutions to the climate crisis. While our society has developed all the technologies we will need to solve the problem, profits and politics hold us back. I look to John as an inspiration for everyone and especially our current government who can’t even bring themselves to put a price on the pollution that is killing us, a price that even fossil fuel companies are asking for. While sitting for the portrait, John mentioned that his daughters’ placards, with words they had chosen to use in the worldwide children’s “strike for climate”, really said it all.
About the artist:
Tom, a systems engineer and project manager, took up art just before retiring in 2016 and had used it as a diversion from his volunteer activities in climate advocacy (Wollongong Climate Action Network, Illawarra Greens, Global Climate Change Week, Renew Illawarra, and most recently and importantly Citizens Climate Lobby Australia). With an academic background in science and a home just above sea level, he studied the climate issue in detail for himself. He is extremely worried by the state of the planet that his generation is leaving for their children and grandchildren. He now strives to help provide the political will for a liveable world.
Tom’s ‘leaf pixel’ style was inspired by the Falkirk Kelpies in Scotland, by his doctor’s waiting room (where he studied a modern aboriginal artwork), by his art teacher Christine Gordon-Smith, but most of all by humanity’s inextricable connection with the environment.
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Citizens’ Climate Lobby Australia acknowledges
the Traditional Custodians of the Lands
on which we live, lobby, advocate, and educate.
We pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.